Wednesday, June 2, 2010
A DAY LIKE NO OTHER
Flags snapped in the wind, taps pierced the silence and in the background rows and rows of white granite headstones stood in solidarity under the hot South Texas sun. This year Memorial day at Ft. Sam Houston was especially memorable. There was a parade that morning and flags and fresh flowers were placed by the headstones of those remembered from WW II to the present OEF and OIF wars. We could almost hear the 21-gun salute and sense aircraft flying overhead, as my friend and I walked slowly in and out and around the graves of our fallen heroes.
It was a day like any other but there was a sense of solemnity in the air. In this stillness, I remembered a soldier telling me, after my asking how he was doing, "I am vertical and have a pulse and the grass is under my feet, not over my head." I understood his message. It lead me to wonder on this Memorial Day why do some choose to live with resentment and bitterness because of an injustice that they perceive was done to them? Wouldn't it be grand if there was a way to get rid of the weight of the unresolved guilt which weighs so many of us down and shortens our tempers and days and years? Wouldn't it be wonderful, if instead, we focused on forgiveness and compassion, and led our own lives instead of trying to live everyone elses. Why do so many have to get even, or get ahead, or get more money than we could possibly ever need. Reverend Dr. Thomas Tewell said in 30 Good Minutes, "Keeping resentment and bitterness under the surface of our life is like trying to keep a beach ball under water in the deep end of a swimming pool. You can physically do it but after a few seconds of keeping the beach ball submerged under water, it gets heavy Soon, it takes all of our energy just to keep it submerged under the surface. But once we take the beach ball up from under the water it is a lot lighter. In the same way, unresolved guilt weighs us down but forgiveness makes us feel lighter."
Walking through the cemetery, I wondered how many 'resting' there had been weighed down by the problems and mistakes and hurts of their yesterdays. How many days and minutes and hours and weeks and years were spent and wasted on things that basically chipped away at the life they had, when so much happiness eluded them. Why do so many want to take control of all around them? How sad they must be.
I wonder why it is so hard to accept joy. Why is it so hard to accept happiness and that feeling that all just might be right with the world right now, in this place, and as it should be.
Listening to the birds and sipping Donut Shop coffee in my back yard this morning, I feel at peace - most likely for the first time ever. My little dog Wally is at my feet and there is the sense, that at least for now, all is right. But why is it so hard? Why is it so hard? Is it a feeling that I don't deserve it, or that this feeling will vanish and simply go away?
But for now I let it go. My friend and I celebrated Memorial Day by feeding carrots to horses, planting flowers in old weathered clay flower pots, and grilling vegies and steaks over mesquite. We shared no guilt, no remorse, no qualms. We simply, and quietly, honored those who lived and died so that we may experience love and life and joy and happiness. We set aside saddness and bitterness and heaviness and the resentment of others. It was a memorable and beautiful day.
As another Memorial Day came to a close, my friend reminded me that "in the United States, everyday should be Memorial Day. We should never forget the price of freedom."